Languages in South Asia are a whole new experience for me. Just the way language is dealt with in a public sphere with 22 official languages really stretches my language assumptions. Hindi and English are more widespread but each state has their own official language as well. Most students learn Hindi in school but then some states like Tamil Nadu refuse to teach it. And even though Kannada is the official language of Karnataka, the majority of people still speak other languages and don’t necessarily speak Kannada. So if you see the people speaking to each other, although most of them are multilingual, it is not always obvious what language they will choose.
I think another language hurdle for me is the writing system. If I am familiar with a writing system, then I can look at the language and sometimes use clues to figure out what is written or even dissect the various language parts. But here I have no framework for written language. Street signs means nothing to me. Packaged food labels are also a mystery. And just like in English where there are different letter shapes for cursive and printing, languages in South Asia also shape their letters differently when being hand written, types, fancy or more plain. It all makes sense but it’s a lot to think about.
Language is a wonderful, crazy thing and I have a great respect for multilingual nations.